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Volunteer Work & Taking a Gap Year

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Gap Years and Volunteer Work


Find volunteer work and great gap year experiences now?
Sometimes earning as you go just isn't possible so it is time to start thinking about saving money. Volunteering is a great way to stay longer by working for your keep, particularly in expensive destinations or in countries where getting a work visa might otherwise be difficult. On other occasions volunteering on your gap year can be worth paying for to do something extra special. We feature both money saving options and unique experiences (and sometimes both at once) in our Volunteer Job Centre.

Featured Gap Year Programmes

* Join Teach & Learn India, and discover glorious Mumbai, Punjab or Tamil Nadu! Includes 4 month placement with orientation on arrival, all accommodation, monthly living allowance of between Rs. 7,500 – Rs. 10,000, meals, learn Hindi, local in country support. Fluent English speaker. No degree necessary.

* Free Volunteer Work Exchanges Abroad For Those Travelling on a Budget. Arrange your stay with Farms, Homes, Art Retreat Centres, Eco- villages, Backpacker Hostels, Surf Lodges, Vineyards, Ranches, Schools, Monasteries and Kibbutzim. Expose yourself to other cultures, experience another lifestyle, share and learn new skills, improve your language skills, all in exchange for a few hours of honest help.


Gap Year and Volunteering Articles

Taking a Gap Year
Extended travelling before work or further education is increasingly regarded as an asset to a CV.

Volunteer Work at a Glance
Volunteering can help with introducing yourself to a new country; settling initial accommodation and food worries without all the hassles of finding paid employment.

Unsure about doing it by yourself and would prefer somebody to have your back? Letty Hardy of Travellers Worldwide gives 12 reasons to volunteer through a structured programme.

Working Your Ticket - Volunteer to Work at a Music Festival
Some people pay an awful lot of money to stand in the rain and watch their favourite bands. But you can camp away from all the smelly hippies and get a free ticket by working as a festival volunteer.

Sharks and Dolphins
Deirdre Bounds, founder of i to i International Projects, offers advice to gap travellers overwhelmed with the choices available and tips on what to look for in a placement organisation.

Gap Travel Health
Travelling to distant countries and experiencing new cultures can be a hugely enjoyable adventure but whether you are planning to travel the world for fun, or intending to work as a volunteer, offer the advice needed to take careful precautions to ensure your health and safety.

Jungle Medicine
Raleigh International require Doctors, Nurses and Paramedics to accompany young people on their gap year to the jungle, or to any of the challenging environments in which Raleigh operate.

Work on a Kibbutz or Moshav
A kibbutz offers the basics for living and working abroad - a bed, food and fags - in exchange for work in its fields, factories and tourist facilities. An alternative option is to stay on a moshav, which pays a pocket money wage but is less communal.

Save the planet during your vacation: Eco Trips for Tree Huggers

Catch 22 Travel Tips
After thieves stole his shoes and left him travelling parts of Latin America in his bare feet, Lincoln Yates set up Catch 22 Travel Security Products to stop this happening to other backpackers. Here he shares his advice for theft free travels.


Your Gap Year and Volunteering Experiences

A Ridiculous Life
Memories of her gap year in Australia came flooding back when a stranger knocked on the door of Stephanie Lightfoot's London flat.

GAPping and Gaping in Inner Mongolia
Despite taking their gap year at a later age than most, Paul and Jill Quin, a journalist and former IBM PR man and a primary teacher / teacher-of-the-deaf, left their native Portsmouth to teach English in a remote region of China.

Out of Cash in Outer Mongolia
Accountancy is rarely described as adventurous, but Debbie Jeremiah tells how her numerical skills took her to two continents while Jason Christopher opted to practise Expedition Medicine in Patagonia with Raleigh International

Mad in Africa
Conservation is one of many activities that Madventurer gets involved with on its expeditions. Rupert Pate worked with the Arid And Semi Arid Conservation And Development Organisation Of Kenya to help push back the Sahara desert, moving south at 11kms per year.

A Memorable Patient
Elspeth Pitt
's Earthwatch expedition to Madagascar led to an unexpected and unique experience with a Lemur.

Done Something Brilliant
made the decision to leave a cushy flat, easy job, boyfriend and all her friends in Brighton to travel to the other side of the world to Madagascar, somewhere she didn't really know anything about.

Ventures in Africa & Asia
Africa & Asia Venture arrange gap year expeditions. Pete Gomer and Ben Stirling went with them to Uganda.

First Impressions Don't Last
John Carson, author of Beer & Bagels for Breakfast, spent 12 months on a Kibbutz near the Gaza Strip. He provides a look at what to expect when working and playing in a small community.

Hotter Than Hell: Life as a Kibbutznik
Giving up the nine to five for the four to noon, Jonathan Adams describes a stay at Kibbutz Ein Hasheloshaon in the Negev desert.

Jenny Ayling of South Yorkshire earned herself A Scholarship to Israel where she spent six months in 2000 on the Bridge in Britain / Gap year programme of Friends of Israel Educational Trust.

Kibbutz Life
It was an 'experiment that worked' was how philosopher Martin Bauber put the kibbutz movement. Matt Scott describes his time on the experiment that worked so well it's still going strong.

Letter From Africa
Some of Alice Croydsdill's African adventures described in a letter to her family.

* We've collected and listed the first hand experiences of lots more gap year travellers and volunteers in our Blogger's Guides to Volunteer Work & Gap Years. Our gap year Pinterest page is another place we collect relevant links.


More Gap Year and Volunteer Work Posts in The Working Traveller

More articles on volunteer work and gap years can be found in our blog, including...

Hostel Jobs Worldwide: 347 Hostels & Guest Houses Open to Volunteer Work Exchanges – Part 1: Europe, Asia and Africa - Working for your keep in a hostel is a good way of cutting down on expensive accommodation costs and circumventing local employment visa requirements. Though it can be a grey area many hostels are willing to provide unpaid work in countries where avenues for paid employment are closed.
Hostel Jobs Worldwide: 347 Hostels & Guest Houses Open to Volunteer Work Exchanges – Part 2: North and South America, Australia and New Zealand - Our list of hostels willing to accept volunteers is a big one so we had to split it into two.
The A to Z of Gap Year Travel - If rumours of the gap year’s demise are true then this post will go mostly unread as students instead forego a break between A levels and university to avoid the rise in tuition fees. Plenty though will either worry about the financial hangover later or consider a year out a worthwhile investment in their future.
The Volunteering Entrepreneur - Nelson Santos discovered a passion for volunteering in his mid-20’s but financial reality brought his plans to a halt until he figured out how to travel the world without saving up first.
Ten Free or Cheap Volunteer Projects to Join in Southeast Asia - Visitors to Southeast Asia will find many inexpensive volunteer projects in the region without having to look too hard – though opportunities will be more limited if you hate dogs and don’t want to teach English.
How to Walk a Lion - Taking lions for a spot of exercise is just one of the things we did when we pitched up in Kanchanaburi, at the doors of the Safari Volunteer Initiative as two of their more incompetent volunteers.
17 Great HelpStay Projects to Travel on the Cheap This Summer - HelpStay connects independent travellers with farms, house holders, art retreat centres, ecovillages, backpacker hostels, surf lodges, vineyards, ranches, schools, monasteries and kibbutzim who are looking for a few hours of help in return for a place to stay.
Expecting the Unexpected as a Hostel Volunteer - Volunteering in exchange for a bed and food has become a common means for young people to travel the world on a budget, the two dominant trends being in agriculture (WWOOFing) and hostel work (Helpx and Workaway), which are constantly in need of cheap young labor.
Volunteer Work in a Fairy Chimney Cave Hotel - Brandon Fralic emailed from his cave room in Cappadocia to say he had scored a volunteer position we had advertised in our Jobs Abroad Bulletin. We told him how the hotel cat gets into his room and, in exchange, he tells us more about his job.
Raise Funds by Volunteering for Medical Trials - Getting paid for laying around in your dressing gown munching pizza after being pumped full of drugs sounds a little too good to be true but it is a way some choose to travellers finance their travels.
Save Money on Travelling in Iceland Through Help Exchanges and Volunteering - Despite Iceland’s reputation as an expensive country preceding it, with a little planning and a willingness to trade some of your spare time it is possible to visit this staggeringly beautiful country without emptying your bank account. We examine realistic options for saving money by taking a volunteer role in Iceland, or even making some with a paid one.
12 Cheap Ways to Volunteer with Animals - Whether cuddly or creepy crawly everyone has a favourite animal. From bats in Australia to Wolves in America, here are 11 opportunities to work with animals and one chance to work for them (cats).
3 Parliamentary Internships in the UK and Abroad - In celebration of Guy Fawkes – said to be the last man to enter Parliament with honest intentions – we present three internship opportunities in London, Paris and wherever the European Parliament is at.
9 Volunteer Work Exchanges in Cave Houses and Cave Hotels in Spain, France, Turkey and Jordan - We've stayed in a cave hotel and while browsing through the excellent Workaway site we expected to come across several more in Turkey but instead were surprised to find that the current cave house and hotel work exchange hotspot is Spain.
10 Work Exchanges on Boats and Yachts - From the traditional boat designs of Turkish gulets and Malay sailing boats to solar powered ferries, Workaway and HelpX provide a few opportunities for messing around on the water – once you’ve got everything shipshape that is.
6 Football Gap Years - There are numerous football gap years around the world where you can be of help.
5 Building Work Exchanges Looking For Volunteers - If you are good with a hammer or a saw, or are just a willing pair of hands willing to learn, here are five work exchange building projects that could use your help.
4 Workaway Volunteer Exchanges With Huskies - With Christmas on the way thoughts often turn to going somewhere hot for the winter but why not embrace the bad weather and go somewhere that does the holiday season properly? Here are a four projects to enjoy snow as it should be enjoyed and where, of course, dog lovers need only apply.
Work With Horses Through These Seven Voluntary Help Exchanges - There are plenty of places around the world for horse riders to get a quick equine fix but only by volunteering can travellers hope to spend any length of time directly with horses.
7 Help Exchange Projects at the Beach - A relaxing life beside the sea awaits for travellers prepared to work for it. From Iran to the West Indies here are seven places where volunteers can swap their skills for a room, beach hut or ocean view tent.
Occasional Hostel Work in Kuala Lumpur - Two of the four places we stayed in Kuala Lumpur offered casual work, though the owners of both guest houses made it clear to us that when it came to landing work in exchange for room and board it is a case of being in the right place at the right time.
5 Cheap Places to Volunteer in Ecuador - The 1970s TV adaptation of Day of the Triffids imagined that the enormous carnivorous mobile vegetation come from Ecuador. It’s the sort of remote jungle location, complete with smoking volcanoes, where script writers feel they can plausibly find lost cities, long extinct dinosaurs and walking foliage. More realistically though it’s the sort of place that adventurous working travellers can find some inexpensive volunteer work.
Tips on How to Plan the Best Gap or Sabbatical Year Out - Taking a year out before university or a much-needed break in your career can refresh, revitalize and give you a new outlook. But what kind of year out should you take?
Volunteer and Temporary Jobs at the Edinburgh Festival - Edinburgh has gained worldwide renown for the large number of events that congregate under the banner of the Edinburgh Festival. While putting on your own show is a great way to be at the heart of the festival, another option is to find a temporary position or, much easier, volunteer to work at the festival.
3 Work Exchange Volunteer Projects for Skiers - Prices can rise as high as a ski lift once the tourist hordes ascend onto small mountain villages for the winter, but if you are prepared to roll up your sleeves you can ski or snowboard for a lot cheaper by hooking up with these three hosts in Japan, Chile and Italy.
Volunteer Crew on Tall Ships - Adventures under sail are scarcer than they once would have been but running away to sea is still possible.
3 Help Exchange Volunteer Projects for Surfers - Surfers are generally a relaxed, friendly bunch, so when they put down roots and find themselves in a position to open a hostel they tend to welcome kindred spirits to help them out around the place. While the itinerant surfer helpers they once were get a free bed, usually food, and perhaps use of a board too, the hostel owners benefit from having someone keeping an eye on things while they hit the waves themselves.
5 Help Exchange Volunteer Projects for Gardeners - If you think the carrot has mystery, (though not so much that flowers are essentially tarts; prostitutes for the bees), then we have five help exchanges – ranging from stately homes to alternative lifestyles – for green fingered volunteers.
6 Animal Sanctuary and Rescue Centre Volunteer Work Exchanges Around the World - All across the world you will find expat and local animal lovers setting up and running their own centres to care for the area’s street dog population, abused donkeys, abandoned cats, injured birds or distressed wild animals.
4 Activity Based Help Exchange Projects Looking for Volunteers - Sporty and active travellers can save their travel budget for something pretty by swapping their skills and muscle for food, accommodation and equipment hire.
Fight Poverty in the UK and Overseas With ICS - International Citizen Service (ICS) is a UK government funded development programme that brings together 18 to 25 year olds from all backgrounds to fight poverty in overseas and UK communities. You don’t need money, skills or qualifications to take part in ICS – just the ambition to make a difference.
POOSH Here to Volunteer and Learn Sustainable Building Techniques - Born out of a meeting through another hospitality exchange site is a relatively new work exchange site for virtually anyone, anywhere in the world wishing to participate in, or start their own sustainable build project.


Voluntary Job Vacancies in JAB

We add the latest volunteer jobs and gap year programmes to our Jobs Abroad Bulletin.


Free or Cheap Volunteer Work Abroad

Truly free opportunities for unskilled volunteers are rare but why pay too much to volunteer when you can make a more affordable difference? We have a whole website dedicated to listing free or cheap volunteer work. Where they are not free, we’ve only listed organisations that charge reasonable (for their location) fees for food and accommodation.


The OJC Directory

Gap Year and Volunteering Links - Short and long term volunteer work with gap year companies, NGOs and other organisations in need of a helping hand. Includes internships, voluntourism, career breaks and gap year courses, plus studying abroad. More relevant links can be found in our Region & Country pages.